Home / Top Stories / Helpful Tips & Info / The Hows And Whys To Buying A Used Motorcycle
Woman Motorcycle Wheelie

The Hows And Whys To Buying A Used Motorcycle

The Hows And Whys To Buying A Used MotorcycleIf you are considering buying a used motorcycle, then there are certain rules or tips, if you will, that you might find useful. When purchasing an item as big, lovable and expensive as a motorcycle, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re buying and that you’re getting your money’s worth. Though some of the instructions below could be of assistance when looking at new motorcycles, you will find them to be most helpful when participating in the task of buying a used one!

Do You Know Exactly What You’re Looking At?

You might know and understand motorcycles really well—inside and out. However, whether you know nothing, the basics, a few facts, or everything from the strength of the clutch to never wearing a used helmet, you should still (highly) consider taking a buddy with you when you go to look at said motorcycle.

A friend will be able to assist you in more ways than one when it comes to making your purchase. For example, your friend will (hopefully) be able to help you stay calm, mask your excitement, and think more practically before possibly spending a large sum of money. In short: your friend will aid you in not purchasing the first bike you see without first doing some test-driving or an inspection. After all, one of the most important rules when buying a motorcycle (anything, really) is to not purchase the first one you see. And if you’re friend happens to know or be well educated on motorcycles, well, that’s just a bonus.

It’s Inspection Time

You wouldn’t buy a house without inspecting it first, right? You’d search each room, every nook and cranny, and ask plenty of questions to know exactly what you were getting for your money. How about a pair of shoes? Wouldn’t you look at them, try them on, and make sure they were a good fit for you before buying them? The same can be considered when looking to buy a motorcycle. Though purchasing a used bike may cost significantly less than a home and significantly more than a pair of shoes, you still understand the correlation. Think of the following as a checklist: important items to look at or inspect, as well as questions to ask and think about.

Special note: Yes, as implied, you will definitely want to test drive the motorcycle you are considering purchasing. However, you need to make sure the bike is actually safe to drive, before testing it out. (Bring riding gear in case the bike is completely ready to be driven).

Woman Motorcycle WheelieLooks Can Be (And Often Are) Deceiving

If you bring a flashlight, you will be able to check the bike for imperfections i.e. scratches, dents, recent paint jobs, marks, signs that the bike was used for racing, etc. It’s been noted that you do not want to purchase a bike that was used for racing, as severe damage could have been caused to the piece. However, if you decide to buy a racing bike then make sure the price is drastically lowered.

If you know and are familiar with the particular model you are looking at, then you will have a better understanding of what you are seeing, or what you should be seeing. For instances, it’s important to check (in no particular order) the brakes, clutch, gas tank, tires, exhaust, and engine. You may believe that checking the mentioned parts are all givens, but without creating a specific list it’s easy to overlook certain parts.

You’ll obviously want to see how smooth or worn out the brakes actually are. You won’t want to ride a motorcycle with bad or deteriorating brakes, but you also won’t want to spend money on new brakes right after purchasing said motorcycle. Testing the brakes is not only a safety issue for yourself, but will also help you determine the seller of the motorcycle—is he genuine and honest? Or is he trying to rip you off? If the brakes or brake pads seem worn or haven’t been changed, then you might want to consider offering a lower price for the bike or requesting that the brakes be changed before a purchase is made.

Checking the strength of the clutch and knowing how many miles are on the motorcycle will be able to tell you what condition the bike is actually in, and if you are getting a quality product. If there are over thirty thousands miles on the bike and the clutch cable hasn’t been changed, then it’s perfectly okay to offer a lower price than what the owner is asking for. Or, of course, you could suggest paying the asking price, but only if adequate changes to the motorcycle are made.

You might find yourself confused by checking the gas tank of the motorcycle, but there are important factors to consider. First, you need to see if there is rust or dents around the tank. Rust can cause the carburetor to clog. Therefore, if there’s rust, then lower your offer price. Also, be concerned with the lock in the gas cap and the actual gas that is in the tank. If the lock doesn’t seem to be working or isn’t tight, offer a lower price for the bike. It’s also vital to make sure the gas in the machine isn’t old. If it’s old, then it will have to be replaced.

The tires, engine, and exhaust are most likely three factors that you’ve already considered to check, and should be checked impeccably. For instances, worn tires or a faulty engine could result in a crash. You need to know how old the tires are and how many miles have been put on them. Tires are not the place to skip over. You can tell a lot about the tires by looking at them, feeling them, and then asking questions.

The same idea can be evoked for the engine. Take a look for holes, signs of damage, or bad repairs before ultimately starting up the bike. Listen and note how easily (or difficult) the bike starts up. Does the motorcycle purr like a kitten? Or does the piece smoke like someone who indulges in a pack of cigarettes a day? It’s also important to consider asking the owner to not start the bike before you get there. Why? This idea comes from the fact that the motorcycle might be difficult or take some time to start up. Do you want to spend your hard-earned money on an item you will be struggling to get started?

If you remember one thing when purchasing a used motorcycle, it’s this: it’s perfectly okay to ask lots of questions. You want to be one hundred percent comfortable with your purchase. Therefore, if you’re unsure about something, then ask.

And finally, if you do in fact make the purchase, remember to get all of the proper documents i.e. owner’s manual, service papers, warranty information, etc. before leaving with your new motorcycle.

Lisa Peteres is a bike enthusiast and freelance writer currently writing on behalf of www.autoinsurance.us. She has just bought her first Classic 1973 Vespa 150 Supra and absolutely loves it!

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?


  1. I it just ME….or does it look EXTRA sexy when a hot babe is gettin the front end up?!?!

  2. You’re totally right, looks can be deceiving. A test ride and a good look over is definitely necessary.

  3. Thank you for the advice on buying a used motorcycle! I agree that these are all important factors to check when choosing a bike. I’m curious if you have any advice on financing a motorcycle? I don’t have the cash to pay for one out right but I’ve been thinking about getting a loan. Do you recommend this?

  4. Fernando (@fernando4bikers)

    RT @YouMotorcycle: The Hows And Whys To Buying A Used Motorcycle https://t.co/BYpRbxQVGc https://t.co/phDq6pwuMS

  5. RT @YouMotorcycle: The Hows And Whys To Buying A Used Motorcycle https://t.co/BYpRbxQVGc https://t.co/phDq6pwuMS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Let's talk

Once a week if we have something really awesome to share, we reach out to riders and let them know. Join our two-wheel community!